Woodstock 50 to Land at Vernon Downs in Central NY?

Woodstock may be returning to Central New York for the 50th anniversary of the iconic music and arts festival. Scheduled to be held Aug. 16-18, some of the previously announced headliners for the event include Jay-Z, The Raconteurs, The Killers, Miley Cyrus, John Fogerty and Dead & Company.

The festival would still be held on the originally planned weekend of Aug. 16-18, only now possibly at Vernon Downs Casino Hotel in Vernon, a small town located along the New York State Thruway between Syracuse and Rome. There would most likely be no camping and the performances would run from until 11:00 p.m. each day.

After Watkins Glen International Speedway pulled out as host of Woodstock 50 on June 10, organizer Michael Lang vowed the festival would still be happening and that they were in discussions with other venues. It now appears that Vernon Downs was one of those venues.

Michael Lang is no stranger to the Central New York area. Woodstock ’99 was held at the decommissioned Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome. The festival drew upwards of 200,000 people that year and was marred by riots and sexual assaults that brought the festival to a fiery conclusion.

The harness racing track located on site has a past of hosting larger concert events, the latest being Aug. 29, 2012 when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band visited during the Wrecking Ball Tour. Track owners at the time suggested that they could comfortably host 30,000 people for the Boss’s show at their venue, a sharp decline from the 100,000 attendees Lang had originally anticipated for his event at Watkins Glen this year.

The track has also hosted Phish, the HORDE tour, the Other Ones (one of many Grateful Dead offshoots) and several versions of the regional radio festival, K-Rockathon.

Even with a lack of on-site camping, attendees would still have several lodging options in the area. The nearby Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona has several hotels and an RV park. Other local options for lodging include two state parks at Verona Beach and Delta Lake, along with several private campgrounds and hotels in nearby Utica, Rome and Syracuse.

Ticketing information was unavailable at press time but would be contingent upon organizers acquiring final permits from the town. The lack of camping would preclude the need for a mass gathering permit from New York State.

NYS Music will have more information as it becomes available.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited to reflect a different number of attendees at Woodstock ’99.

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